top of page

Lost Racecourses of the UK (Part 1)

The origins of horse racing as a professional sport in the UK date back to the 12th century. The first races were held during the reign of Charles II, from 1660 to 1685, on private courses, with prizes awarded to the winners. Newmarket then became the venue for the first horse racing meetings in Britain, holding their first meeting in 1667. Fast forward to today, and Newmarket is still operating, 356 years later. Dubbed 'the headquarters of British horseracing', they host nine of Britain's 36 annual Group-1 races. Unfortunately, not all racecourses from 'way back when' had the longevity of Newmarket, and circumstances forced them to close. Some are well-known names that are closed due to lack of funding, while they simply replaced others with housing estates and retail parks. Steeped in history, but perhaps forgotten, it's time to revisit some of the lost racecourses of the UK.


Folkestone Racecourse:

Folkestone is one of British racing's most recent casualties, closing after 114 years of operation in December 2012. Established in 1898, it played host to both flat and national hunt racing, and at its peak, Folkestone hosted over 20 meetings a year. Now though, it lies abandoned, and is in the process of being replaced with housing.


For an in-depth look at the course and its history, click the button below!




Bromford Bridge Racecourse:

Bromford Bridge was opened in 1894 by brothers John and Stanley Ford. Situated between the city and countryside, it operated for 70 years, hosting a mix of both flat and national hunt racing. It was known for attracting big fields, top-quality participants, and larger prize pots than most other courses, but even the worlds longest continuous bar wasn't enough to save this old gem. The track may be long gone, but the parade ring is still visible today!

For an in-depth look at the course and its history, click the button below!



Alexandra Park Racecourse:

Known as the "Ally Pally", Alexandra Park was opened on 30th June 1868. A flat course described as the "quirkiest course in Britain", it could be found just seven miles from the centre of London. Despite being a hit with legendary pundit John McCririck, not everyone was particularly fond of Alexandra Park, but it's certainly earned its place in the history books. Once attracting crowds of 10,000+ to its evening meetings, there is now very little sign that the venue ever existed.


For an in-depth look at the course and its history, click the button below!



Gatwick Racecourse:

A track that now lies beneath an airport runway, Gatwick racecourse was open for 49 years before its closure in 1940. Another dual-purpose venue, it was perhaps best known for hosting three runnings of the Grand National (1916-1918). It was fairly popular, and even had its own dedicated station on the London-Brighton railway. Now though, there is no evidence that there was ever a racecourse there, besides "The Flying Horse" pub in Gatwick's South Terminal, the airport with which it was replaced.


For an in-depth look at the course and its history, click the button below!



Buckfastleigh Racecourse:

Opened in 1883, Buckfastleigh was a national hunt course located between Plymouth and Exeter. It operated for 75 years, hosting some quality jumps racing, including the Dartmoor Chase. Buckfastleigh proved to be very popular with punters, and at one point, special excursion trains were ferrying people to and from the meetings from places such as Exeter, Torquay, and Plymouth. Now though, it is a shadow of its former self.


For an in-depth look at the course and its history, click the button below!



Lincoln Racecourse:

Lincoln Racecourse is a track steeped in history. Racing had taken place in the city from as early as 1597, and the course played host to several notable races, including the Lincoln Handicap, Brocklesby Stakes, and Royal Plate Races. It was a predominantly flat course, though national hunt racing did take place there, and it was open for a whopping 367 years. The grandstand can still be seen today, but it remains derelict, with no plans to bring racing back any time soon.


For an in-depth look at the course and its history, click the button below!



Colwall Park Racecourse:

Known as one of "England's prettiest racecourses", it is perhaps a shame that Colwall Park was only open for just shy of 40 years. Opened in 1900, this national hunt course held four meetings a year and played host to some quality races. In its heyday, Colwall Park welcomed many top riders and was popular with day trippers from South Wales. Now though, there is little visual trace of its existence.

For an in-depth look at the course and its history, click the button below!



Stockton Racecourse:

Stockton wasn't known for its top quality racing, but the sport had been prominent in the area since 1721, and it hosted both flat and jumps fixtures. Its final site at Mandale Marshes on a loop in the River Tees was considered "the finest in the North", and it was a track that many enjoyed visiting. Stockton was one of the few venues to stage racing during the war, but it eventually lost out to new attractions. A retail complex now sits on the site of the old course.


For an in-depth look at the course and its history, click the button below!



Bedford Racecourse:

Bedford was never considered as an "ideal" place for horse racing, nor did it attract many runners, but it has a very special place in the sports history. In 1810, a 40,000 strong crowd witnessed the very first steeplechase over manufactured fences at this track. However, despite its upturn, Bedford always struggled, and the area is now overlooked by the Midland Main Line railway.


For an in-depth look at the course and its history, click the button below!



That’s part 1 of this list complete. There are plenty of other 'lost racecourses' in the UK, so be sure to keep an eye out for parts 2 and 3, coming over the next few months!



Recent Posts

See All

コメント


Post: Blog2_Post
bottom of page